Massive Attack star criticises Bristol Mayor candidate George Ferguson
ONE of Bristol's leading musicians has claimed mayoral candidate George Ferguson's membership of Bristol's elite Society of Merchant Venturers is a conflict of interests.
Massive Attack's lead singer Robert Del Naja has questioned whether Mr Ferguson can call himself an independent candidate when he is a member of an "exclusive club".
Mr Del Naja, known as 3D, believes Mr Ferguson would still be tied to the organisation even if he quit as a member after the November election.
He has written an open letter to Mr Ferguson in which he says he is a great admirer of his regeneration projects and is considering voting for him.
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But he questions whether he is a truly independent candidate while a member of the society which has many business interests in the city.
Even if he left the society, he asks whether his personal relationships with members would create a conflict of interest.
Mr Del Naja, 46, who lives in Bristol, refers to the society's past connections with the slave trade and wonders whether as a member, it was the best way to represent Bristol on the global stage.
Mr Ferguson has already penned a response to Mr Del Naja, in which he says that, if elected, he will immediately end his membership of the society.
He explains that he is not an apologist for the "appalling and deeply cruel" slave trade and says he played a leading part in anti-apartheid campaigning in Bristol during the 1970s.
He said that nowadays the society was a charitable organisation that carries out an "extraordinary amount of good for Bristol's elderly, youth and education".
He said the group met four times a year and he cannot remember having a business discussion of any substance in all his time as a member.
Mr Del Naja, whose Italian parents ran a number of well-known pubs in Bristol, including the Nova Scotia and the Adam and Eve, is no stranger to getting involved in political issues.
Three years ago, he launched a stinging attack on the city's waterfront buildings, describing them as "eastern European".
He said in an interview with a national newspaper: "I was up on Brandon Hill yesterday, looking over the waterfront, and it's a mess.
"It looks like eastern Europe in the 1960s.
"There's not a single building on the Bristol skyline that's been put there in the last 50 years that is of note which is legacy-building."
He has also criticised the name of Colston Hall because of Edward Colston's associations with the slave trade. Massive Attack have refused to play at the venue since 2002.
When the £500 million shopping centre Cabot Circus opened in 2008, he branded it "absolute vandalism", and said it "captured that gripping 1980s shopping mall look of mid-America/the Midlands".
Mr Del Naja began as a Bristol graffiti artist before forming the St Paul's based Wild Bunch group in the mid-1980s, which included Knowle West rapper Tricky and producer Nellee Hooper.
Only yesterday it was revealed that he will be working with French electro trailblazers Justice and Australia's The Avalanches on the score for the musical King Kong, which opens in Melbourne next June.